Keep on the Shadowfell
Ranger played by Dan
The Ranger’s name was Fenn, but he was not always a man of nature. Son of the Evaisees, he was born of noble blood in a land and time both far from memory. Raised by the traditions befitting his pedigree, a life of privilege offered unfettered access to the greatest masters of combat, the finest scholars and the intrigues of court for a hungry and curious young mind. But for all social occassion and ceremony, a Keep can be a lonely place to spend a childhood. Many an evening would see the boy sneak out of his bed and across the crenellations to find solitude in the nearby thick branches of the aged trees, just a short leap from the south castle wall to the rear of the courtyard. He always felt safe in the sturdy boughs in which he would often fall asleep. It was one such night when his life changed forever.
A tearing sound is made by fire as it rips through a still night’s sky. Torn from his sleep, awoken to chaos, the man still remembers the boy’s nightmare. Glistening in the moonlight, tears alone could not extinguish the flames that illuminated the terror in the boys face. The unknown enemy used Ballista and Trebuchet to destroy his home and all trace of those within it, while the boy stole terrified into the night towards the nearby and ancient Harken Forest to seek refuge.
The boy awoke suddenly to a familiar noise – someone was coughing not so far away. He had somehow fallen asleep between the mossy roots of half-fallen tree. He trod carefully as he made his way silently to the source of the sound. A small party of soldiers had made camp, just inside the shelter of the forest. Human soldiers. He had not expected his enemy to be of his own people! And then he recognised one of the very banners that had at one time hung in his Father’s court. Not only was his enemy human, but he was known to his father. This was all too much. His family had been betrayed and his home had been sacked without any kind of notification. As he contemplated his own fate, the soldiers began to stir. One started with a noise as they became aware of the young intruders presence. Their words were lost on Fenn as they dared speak to him, for he far out-ranked them. They circled him until one who assumed control edged closer with open arms, readying himself to catch hold of the boy stood alone between them. Fenn could smell the disgusting stench of their breath as they drew closer. Fenn had grown up living with those of equal rank and had never become so close to the foul odour of the lower orders. They were disgusting and they dared approach him, let alone speak to him.
The boy interrupted the dull noise of their speech. “You are no longer welcome on my Father’s land” he formally stated. A stunned silence was followed by a chorus of cheap laughter. Fenn had not spent much time in the company of commoners, but he was soon weary of their presence. With lightning reactions he lunged for the sword handle and quickly drew the long blade from its scabbard much to the surprise of those few men that surrounded him. More laughter ensued, but this time it was aimed at the man who had lost his weapon to a boy.
Is this how his life was supposed to end? The boy never imagined it would be this way, he always dreamed of armed combat against an enemy with honour – not this band of lowly farm hands. His sword was lowered, tip to the ground, held at an angle diagonally away from his body. He turned the blade inwards so that the weaponless man opposite him could see his own reflection in the sword that was once his own. He adjusted his stance and moved to grip the sword with both hands as he slowly raised the blade until it was held high above his head. He relaxed his upper body, turned and calmly, but quickly lowered his blade through the face of a soldier that approached him from behind. The man was still falling as he turned and opened the stomachs of two more soldiers to his flank. He parried another blade before opening the throat of its owner and then finally thrust his own weapon into a burly man wielding an axe. The man cursed and spat blood at Fenn, who in turn collected his head with a lazy swipe of his sodden blade.
He could hear moans of pain and smell the rank open wounds of those that lay slain around him. He raised his eyes to look at the man that was still stood wide-eyed and weaponless, sharing the centre stage of the carnage.
“Tell your master that he is no longer welcome in my family home” the boy announced before casually returning to the thick of the woods without a backwards glance.
Minutes became hours. Days became weeks. Months became years. As one life ended another began. As seasons changed, so did he. Each new year brought him more strength, more skill and an increased understanding of his new environment. He made himself a home amongst the woodland canopies and often visited the nearby townships to be around people in the markets, shops and taverns. He mastered the art of blending in with crowds and always listened out for clues that might lead him to his enemy. When he finally reached his twentieth year, Fenn left the forest a man, ready to search for answers. In his sleep he still returns to that fateful night and knows he will not find rest until he exacts revenge upon those responsible for the sacking of his home and the murder of his family.